Carlissia Graham Named President of Impact Investment Fund New Media Ventures
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New Media Ventures (NMV), a sector-leading civic impact investment fund and angel network, is pleased to announce the appointment of Carlissia Graham as President. Since joining the organization, Carlissia has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our mission, vision, and our diverse community of founders.
Carlissia joined New Media Ventures as Chief Operating Officer in 2021 and served as Interim President for several months before being installed as President of the organization by unanimous decision. She is the first Black woman to lead the philanthropic venture firm and one of the few people of color leading an investment firm dedicated to mobilizing capital in civic and political innovation. Her appointment is a strong signal of the organization’s belief that representational democracy starts with investing in representational innovation.
Carlissia started her career in community-based organizing in Memphis before serving as a staffer in the Tennessee state legislature and U.S. Congress, working for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Karen Bass. She held multiple senior-level positions in the Obama administration democratizing access to publicly-funded technology, creating pathways to government service for underrepresented communities, and directing billion-dollar capital investments in public-tech infrastructure. She’s been a leader in resistance organizing movements from fighting back Trump at Planned Parenthood Federation of America to fighting for police reforms and voting rights in the South. An entrepreneur in her own right, she has built companies and also served as an early employee in other political tech startups.
“Carlissia's strong ability to spot and nurture diverse talent is critical to NMV's essential role as the friends and family investment round for dynamic new ideas in progressive messaging, tech, and media. Her cross-cutting professional background combined with her smart insights from the 100s of new projects NMV considers each year make Carlissia a vital voice for those interested in ‘what's next,’” said Sarah M. Williams, Propel Capital CEO and New Media Ventures Board Member.
New Media Ventures, founded in 2010 by a group of political donors, was among the earliest investors in political tech and media startups. Over time it has become the preeminent backer of early-stage civic ventures and the first point of entry for groups needing to unlock institutional capital without having established institutional connections. It’s a model that has proven quite effective for the progressive movement. In a world where 90% of startups fail, 92% of NMV-backed initiatives succeed and their impact is felt all over the movement.
With a portfolio that rivals traditional venture capital, their investments have scaled into well known, highly-impactful pillars of social change movements. ActBlue Civics, Vote.org, CrowdTangle, Blavity, Hustle, SwingLeft, Mijente, BallotReady, Run For Something, Savi, New/Mode, and Liberation Ventures are just a few of the over 120 investments in their portfolio with the common thread being leveraging media and tech to mobilize the most disenfranchised and systems-impacted members of American society.
“I’m proud to build on the legacy of great leaders before me who understood that true democracy is forged from the bottom-up, from taking risks and from backing bold visionaries who can both imagine and build a better way forward,” explained Carlissia Graham, New Media Ventures President. “We’re in an era of unprecedented rollbacks to equity and democracy, having to relitigate long-settled freedoms. But we also have the greatest supply of technically-capable, proximate problem-solvers in history, which if properly resourced can lead to the greatest actualization of democracy the world has ever seen. That’s a future I’m excited to lead.”
“NMV has accelerated the pace of social change with its deep expertise and dynamic investments. With Carlissia at the helm, we are excited to see her strong and committed leadership in action as the organization scales and centers founders of color in their investment program to propel the progressive movement,” said Romilda Avila, Tides Advocacy CEO.
NMV's ever-increasing deal flow demonstrates an acute and sustained expansion of innovative activism; and it’s not going away any time soon. What used to be a rallying cry against Trumpism, is now a sustained drumbeat for democracy and collective liberation. And the organization, under Carlissia’s leadership, is expanding its reach to play a more active role in growing and sustaining the progressive media and tech infrastructure it has been critical in seeding.
“Carlissia’s passion for supporting progressive infrastructure that safeguards our democracy cannot be overstated,” shared Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Way to Win. “We’re proud to continue our partnership with New Media Ventures during this critical moment for our nation and are excited for all that will manifest under her leadership.”
New Media Ventures is committed to shifting the structures of power to benefit more people through active investment in media and technology solutions closest to the problem. Re-energized under a new president, the organization is poised to lead the way to a more inclusive, equitable, and innovative future.